Friday, November 27, 2020

Karkala: Very little progress even 17 years after 'Naxal' encounter in Idu

Deekshith DV

Daijiworld Media Network - Karkala

Karkala, Nov 26: “A shiver ran down my spine, when bullets rained down the house, damaging the wall here badly, during fierce encounters between police-naxalites, which claimed lives of two women,” says Prashanth Poojary son Ramappa Poojary, recalling a 17-year-old heart-wrenching memory of naxal-police encounter at Idu village of Karkala taluk.

It was Udupi district's first police-naxalite encounter that claimed the lives of two women suspected Naxalites Hajima and Paravati, injuring Yashoda (later court acquitted Yashoda from the charges of Naxal link) in the scuffle which took place during wee hours of November 17 in 2003. Two suspected naxals Ananda and Vishnu who were in the house managed to flee as police opened fire at them.

Remembering the incident, Prashanth Poojary says that holding three weapons, as many as five people came to their residence at 7.30 pm on November 16. “On November 17 at 3.30 am, with no time to realize what was happening, Paravathi who was guarding outside the house, suddenly leaped inside the house asking others to flee. A writhing Paravathi collapsed and succumbed due to bullet injuries. In the melee, Yashoda managed to rush to the attic. Hajima followed her but could not rush easily as she was fat. She was severely injured in the firing. Later, though she was rushed to the hospital, died on the way.

"Initially, without any arms, they used to visit the village often during day time. They were also asking people to oppose landlords and the government if they are suppressing the working class and harassing the people to evacuate their land. They were also asking people to join their movement," he added.

Though several politicians made beelines to Ramappa Poojary's residence promising Bollottu-Naravai road, a bridge at Khandige and rehabilitation packages to Ramappa Poojary's family, nothing was materialised despite 17 years of the incident.

Till date, Bollottu village does not have a proper motorable road. As there is no bridge for Suvarna rivulet in Khandige, it is very difficult to cross the rivulet during the rainy season. Though, politicians had promised to construct a new house as the house was damaged in the scuffle, till today, the government has not materialised the assurance. "At last, we built the house by availing loan from the bank" says Prashanth.

Villagers feel that naxal movement was active on the foothills of Western Ghats in those days, due to official apathy towards the development of villages. A villager also alleged that during those days, the officials of the forest department used to harass people who visited the forest to fetch forest products for their livelihood. The government's decision to evacuate people living on the stretch of the forest also may be the reason for the rise of the naxal movement in the region.

Totally, this obscure village shot into prominence after the encounter of two suspected Naxalites. Nearly 17 years of this incident, there is very little progress and the villagers feel that they were betrayed without any development.

Sudhakar Poojary who was also one of the eyewitnesses of the incident, claims that though crores of rupees was sanctioned by the government for the development of the naxal infested areas, a single penny has not been spent on Idu village. After waiting for several years, the village had got only half-a-kilometre of road asphalted. The construction of a bridge in Khandige for the rivulet connecting Bollottu to Naravi is a long pending demand.

Prashanth Poojary also claims that people living in the stretch of Western Ghats do not have clarity about the Kasturirangan report. The government should clear the doubt over the same

Maoist killed in gunfight in Chhattisgarh’s Bastar

Santosh Podiam carried a reward of Rs1 lakh on his head, and was allegedly involved in killing of policemen in Bijapur district

Updated: Nov 26, 2020, 13:49 IST

By Ritesh Mishra, Hindustan Times Raipur

The gunfight between the forces and Maoists took place in the Darbha forest area which falls under Kutru police station
The gunfight between the forces and Maoists took place in the Darbha forest area which falls under Kutru police station. (Representational Image)

Security forces gunned down a Maoist in a gunfight in Bijapur district of Bastar region in Chhattisgarh on Thursday. Santosh Podiam carried a reward of Rs1 lakh on his head, and was allegedly involved in killing of policemen in Bijapur district.

Podiam was jan militia commander of CPI ( Maoist) and was allegedly involved in abduction and murder of assistant sub-inspector Nagaiyya Korsa in August and killing of forest ranger Rathram Patel in September, in Kutru and Jangla police station areas respectively, police said.

Inspector General of Police, Bastar range, Sunderaj P told HT that the gunfight took place at around 5am in the Darbha forest area which falls under Kutru police station.

“A joint team of District Reserve Guard (DRG) and district force was out on an anti-Maoist operation after a tip-off about their gathering in the jungle. At around 5am, when the team was cordoning off the jungles, Maoists opened fire on them. The exchange of fire lasted about 20 minutes and Podiam’s body was recovered,” said the IG .

Police have also recovered a rifle from the spot.

Also read | Chhattisgarh government fixes tribal Devgudis to counter Maoists in Bastar region

On Monday, three Maoists, including a woman cadre, carrying a collective reward of Rs18 lakh on their heads were gunned down by the security forces in Kanker district of Chhattisgarh’s Bastar division.

Three weapons, including an automatic rifle, were found at the spot. The deceased were identified as members of company no 5 of People’s Liberation Guerrilla Army

Remembering Jan Myrdal, Who Stubbornly Refused to Change Ideological Leanings

Jan, who began his journey as a Communist nearly eight decades ago, spoke in an unmistakable old polemical tone that filled university halls in the 1960s and 70s.
6 hours ago | Rajesh Joshi

When Swedish writer and Marxist intellectual Jan Myrdal died last month on October 30, 2020, The New York Times aptly described him as “author and provocateur” whose work was seen as “overly sympathetic to authoritarian rulers”.

Myrdal did indeed provoke the Indian authorities so much that the junior home minister in the second term of the UPA government was forced to make a statement in the Rajya Sabha, accusing the Swede of hobnobbing with the Maoists. The security forces at that time were engaged in a bloody conflict with the armed rebels in central India and then Prime Minister Manmohan Singh had declared the Maoist insurgents as the “biggest threat to India’s internal security.”

That, however, did not deter Myrdal from openly talking about his meeting with top Maoist leadership.

Jan came to India in 2010, visited the Maoist camps in the forests of Bastar in Chattisgarh to meet the top leadership of the banned outfit. He wrote a book, Red Star Over India, detailing his interactions with the Maoists including the ever-elusive general secretary of the party, Ganapathy.

He again came to India in 2012 for the launch of his book where I met and interviewed him.

That was two years before Narendra Modi took over as the prime minister of India.

That was also the time when writer Arundhati Roy and Kashmiri separatist leader Syed Ali Shah Geelani would share the dais in New Delhi to openly talk about ‘azadi’ for the Kashmiri people, and get away with a few disapproving statements from the politicians. It now feels like a distant past where expressing unorthodox opinions about the government was not viewed as deshdroh (treason).

Also read: Why the State Is Attempting to Link Dalit Resistance to Maoism

Ironically, while Roy was spared a sedition case, others were not so lucky.

In an alleged encounter in July 2010, the Andhra Pradesh police killed Maoist leader Cherukuri Rajkumar alias Azad and accompanying journalist Hem Chandra Pande. The “encounter” killings moved the Supreme Court so much that it did not mince words in criticising the state and famously said: “The republic cannot kill its own children.”

Jan Myrdal found it quite interesting that, as he put it, one arm of the state was allegedly organising extra-legal killings and, at the same time, another arm i.e. the Supreme Court was criticising it in no uncertain terms. He called it “a rather typical Indian” phenomenon.

During the interview, I asked him about his views on India as a democracy. His answer was unequivocal: “On the one hand you have this legal structure of the state, and on the other hand you have the decidedly extra-legal behaviour of the state. So, you have one arm of the state – the Supreme Court – taking up these cases (of extra-judicial killings), but another arm is driving the fake encounters.”

Jan Myrdal speaking at a demonstration against the Vietnam War at Medborgarplatsen in Stockholm, 1966. Photo: Svenska Dagbladet via IMS Vintage Photos/Public Domain

Born to Nobel laureate parents, Gunnar Myrdal and Alva Myrdal, in 1927, Jan was one of Sweden’s foremost writers who had the reputation of an uncompromising, albeit controversial, public intellectual known for his unflinching Marxist-Leninist leanings.

He penned several books on politics, travel and art. Later he also became a major literary figure in Sweden known for his autobiographical novels, which dealt with his troubled childhood and his strained relationship with his parents. Still, his worldview was greatly shaped by his illustrious parents. His father Gunnar Myrdal’s seminal book, Asian Drama (1968), remained a Bible for the ideologues and supporters of the Third World. He dealt with the question of economic inequality between different countries – why only a few countries were super-rich while a majority of them were facing poverty and deprivation.

Also read: Sukma Encounter a Reminder the Government is in Urgent Need of a Maoist Strategy

Jan himself was drawn to the Marxist-Leninist ideology quite early in life. “I have worked as a Communist from the spring of 1943 when I was 15. But I am a non-party communist”, he told me. During the initial years, he was a supporter of the Soviet communism but “the conflicts in the Third World and the developments in the so-called socialist world led me to leave the Party, but I am not a renegade. I can say the Party had left me.”

When China was going through the upheavals wrought by the Cultural Revolution led by Mao Zedong and his frenzied Red Guards, Jan was living in a tiny Chinese village. He lived there before and during the tumultuous years of the Cultural Revolution. “I was in the countryside – not in the cities where mad students were shooting at each other”, said Jan. His first book, Report from a Chinese Village, came out in 1963, in which he controversially supported all aspects of the Cultural Revolution and the Maoist interpretation of Marxism.

He revisited the same village twenty years later only to be massively disappointed to see the developments that followed Mao’s death. China had changed beyond recognition under Mao’s successor Deng Xiaoping, who famously said: ‘it doesn’t matter whether the cat is black or white, as long as it catches mice’, justifying the introduction of free-market in communist China. Jan, like many other supporters of Mao’s thought, became a staunch critic of Deng Xiaoping. His book Return to a Chinese Village is a narrative of his disapproval of Deng’s China.

Jan Myrdal’s interest in the Maoist ideology and politics drew his attention to the Maoism-inspired peasant struggles in India too. The first wave of the Naxalite movement had gradually faded away after its leader Charu Majumdar died in police custody in 1972. But when the fragments of the movement regrouped under Naxalite leader Chandra Pulla Reddy in Andhra Pradesh in the late 1970s, Jan spent time with the armed squads under Reddy’s command and published his first book, India Waits.

He predicted that a powerful left-wing movement was waiting to explode in rural India. Reputed American journalist Harrison Salisbury commended the book saying, “Jan Myrdal is always worth reading because in his anger and bitterness there lurks real tragedy. India Waits is pure Myrdal. I disagree violently with much of what he says but I am glad he has written.”

So, is Maoism the answer? I asked Jan Myrdal the same question I posed to Arundhati Roy after she published a long essay, Walking with the Comrades, on her return from the Maoist stronghold in Bastar.

Also read: In ‘Nightmarch’, a Riveting and Complex View of Naxalism

“Of course, not!” Roy was very clear in her outright rejection of Maoism as a solution to India’s woes. But Jan Myrdal chose to elaborate. He said Maoism in a general way was a reasonable answer. But then “you will have to discuss what Maoism means, and you must remember that there is no outside force that can determine things for you.”

Jan’s words had an unmistakable old polemical tone that filled university halls in the 1960s and 70s. The Swedish teenager who began his journey as a Communist nearly eight decades ago, stubbornly refused to reset his ideological leanings till his death.

Rajesh Joshi is an independent journalist and former editor of BBC Hindi Radio.

Maoist killed in Odisha encounter, AK-47 rifle and explosives recovered

A huge cache of arms and ammunition, including an AK-47 rifle and explosives, were seized from the area.

Updated: Nov 26, 2020, 22:11 IST

By Debabrata Mohanty, Hindustan Times Bhubaneswar

In the encounter a Maoist said to be a commander of a platoon was killed HT file photo
In the encounter, a Maoist, said to be a commander of a platoon, was killed. (HT file photo)

A senior Maoist carrying an AK-47 was shot dead during an exchange of fire with security forces in the Swabhiman Anchal area of Odisha’s Malkangiri district on Thursday.


Malkangiri SP Khilari Rishikesh Dnandeo said, a police team, acting on a tip-off, launched a raid in the Jantri under Swabhiman Anchal of the district. As the security personnel approached their hideout, the Maoists opened fire leading to a gun battle.

In the encounter, a Maoist, said to be a commander of a platoon, was killed. The Malkangiri SP said the Maoist’s identity would be revealed on Friday after the identification by family members or some surrendered rebels. Another Maoist has been injured in the operation.

A huge cache of arms and ammunition, including an AK-47 rifle and explosives, were seized from the area.

Earlier this month, a joint team of BSF, SOG and DVF of Malkangiri recovered ammunition, hand grenades, landmines and other incriminating materials of Maoists following an operation in Arapadar-Andrapalli of Swabhiman Anchal

Wednesday, November 25, 2020

The Wax And Wane Of The Naxalite Movement In Odisha

The origin of the Naxalite movement in Odisha can be traced back to the early 1960s as a peasant movement in the then undivided Koraput District, under the banner of the Communist Party of India (CPI). Like all ‘revolutions’ taking birth under the banner of communism, this dented, pro-mao, radicalized movement was also a result of decades of feudal exploitation and the oppression of the rural poor. Over the years, the ‘revolution’ undoubtedly lost all meaning and turned towards the very oppressed it meant to protect in a battle against the state. How did the movement come into being, what caused its rise, and how is it on a steady decline- let’s take a look at the wax and wane of the Naxalite movement in Odisha.  

Origin and Rise

Years leading up to the origin of the Naxalite movement in Odisha witnessed the rural poor’s exploitation and the tribals at petty landlords’ hands. The non-producing landlords and little businessmen always had a surplus of paddy and food grains whereas, the producing workers and tillers of the land had no food. Low levels of literacy further rendered them as the victims of socio-economic exploitation from the pockets of poverty. Poverty in Odisha was too high, especially in the southern and western regions of the state, including Koraput and Ganjam districts. As a result, an agricultural revolution broke out from these regions, which eventually grew into the infamous Naxalite movement in Odisha. 

Over the years, Naxalism spread from mere tribal groups to the disadvantaged classes, landless individuals, and even students. Similarly, the target base grew from petty landlords to police personnel, contractors, forest officers, and anyone ‘exploited the people’ according to these groups’ definition. Popular Naxalite groups included the People’s war group (PWG), Maoist Communist Center (MCC), and several others. They clung faithfully to Mao’s dictum of”on the force of the popular masses.” They even studied the actions of Ernesto ‘Che’ Guevara, who has left behind very practical and detailed instructions for launching a guerilla war. Consequently, they thrived on the popular support of the gullible oppressed classes who aided these groups with everything from transport to assistance to the wounded to disrupt the enemy positions. Naxalites operated dominantly in the tribal areas, whereas the coastal districts remained somewhat politically conscious.  


Image Source – Wiki Media

2007 arguably marked a peak in left-wing extremism in Odisha. With a hold over half of India’s 29 states, Naxalism had buried its claws under 40% of the nation’s geographical area. According to the BCC, about 6,000 people lost their lives due to the prevalent Naxalism in the country between 1990 and 2010. Al Jazeera, on the other hand, reported more than 10,000 casualties between 1980 and 2011. 

Decades of political ignorance and bureaucratic apathy towards tribal exploitation paved the way for the unwarranted left-wing extremism. Ironically enough, what started as a mere peasant movement in a small district of Odisha came to constitute “the greatest internal security threat to the nation”- as stated by former PM Manmohan Singh on Naxalism in India. 

The steady decline of the movement

A) Growing political involvement

The India National Congress remained mostly indifferent to the Naxalite movement in the state for over 35 years. Other successive regimes in Odisha also failed to evolve any clear policies on the issue. It was only during the period between 1990-1995 of the Janata Party Government that the state recognized the problem as a socio-economic one. Yet, despite measures against the Naxalite movement, Biju Patnaik, the then Chief Minister, failed to curb the Naxalite activities in the state. 

However, in February 2009, the central government of India announced a new nationwide initiative called the ‘Integrated Action Plan’ (IAP) to combat and undermine the Naxalite movement in 9 states. These included Andhra Pradesh, Bihar, Jharkhand, Chhattisgarh, Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh, Odisha, UP, and West Bengal. IAP focused on grass-root economic projects and an increase in special police funding. Consequently, the country as a whole saw a decline in the Naxalite movement. Just one year later, Karnataka was removed from the list of Naxal-affected areas. By 2011, the number of Naxal affected areas was reduced to 83 districts while the reported Naxal related deaths also fell by 50%. However, 2013 again witnessed a major Naxal attack, popularly known as the 2013 Naxal Attack in Chattisgarh, wherein about 24 leaders were killed. 

naxal women
naxal women

Image Source – Google

Nevertheless, recent statistics provided by the government of Odisha claim a decline in the Naxal activities in the state. In 2019, Odisha Chief Secretary Asit Tripathy claimed that ten out 15 Maoist-hit districts are now free from the influence of Left Wing Extremism. He attributed this development to the steady implementation of developmental activities undertaken in affected Red affected areas. Specific schemes included providing rights over forest land to over 1,41,471 tribal families, improving road communication with 29 completed road projects under Road Requirement Plan-I (RRP-I) whereas, another 33 projects sanctioned under RRP-II are under implementation. 

Taking the population’s literacy into account, one Ekalavya Vidyalaya (residential schools) has been established in Malkangiri and Koraput districts. Further, three other such schools were sanctioned by the Centre in 2019. Of late, telecommunication, banking facilities, skill training, and other services are also getting attention in these affected areas.

B) Unpopularity amongst Tribals and the rural poor

The decline of the Naxalite movement in Odisha bears its onus upon its losing fan base among the very tribal groups it meant to ‘uplift.’ Ironically, the objective of this Maoist movement in Odisha shifted from justice for the landless and poor peasants to the exploitation of the very same tribals, agricultural laborers, mining workers in a cry against the state. The majority of the tribals depend on agriculture for their livelihood. The PWG operatives, who had sworn to the ideology of Mao and Marx and went out of the way to protect these tribals’ interests, gradually began extorting money from them. As a result, it did not take the tribals long to realize that the Naxalites had not only failed to deliver on their promises but were also using them as pawns in a war against the state. In recent years, tribals have actively contributed to the capture and surrender of multiple Naxalites.


Image Source – Rediff

 Maoist insurgents are today known to derive their strength from all sorts of anti-national and anti-social forces. In recent years, the organizations have even allegedly received funding from terrorist organizations such as ISIS. Recent attacks such as the PWG attack on a temple in Andhra Pradesh have caught national attention. Wanted criminals have joined the Naxalite ranks in Odisha in an attempt to evade arrest.

Further, the sheer denial of any scope for negotiation with the state added to the list of reasons for their decline. The Maoists of India have failed to realize that not even Mao himself claimed that the ‘armed struggle’ for control over the state is non-negotiable. It is vital to consider that if peaceful negotiations achieve the objectives, any talk of ‘armed struggle’ is meaningless and irrelevant.